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The Easter Parade: Tradition & Trends on Display

We love tradition!  And among our favorites is NYC’s Easter Parade with its parade of fashion and fur.

NYC’s Easter Parade with its parade of fashion and fur

NYC’s Parade with its parade of fashion and fur

The New York City annual Easter Parade is a fun family affair

The New York City annual  Parade is a fun family affair

The New York City annual Easter Parade is a fun family affair

People of all ages and backgrounds come out to celebrate

NYC’s Easter Parade with its parade of fashion and fur

The Parade also has big cultural undertones beautifully blended in

The Parade also has big cultural undertones beautifully blended in

Enduring Easter Parade Traditions

Starting as a spontaneous event in the 1870s, the New York Easter Parade quickly became an iconic cultural expression of the holiday in the U.S.  Tens of thousands of people would join together on Fifth Avenue in their finest apparel and millinery after church services to celebrate as they marched past some of New York’s landmark churches, elaborately decorated with special Easter floral displays.  Dressing up was highly encouraged and, of course, women showed off in their finest fur fashions.

NYC’s Easter Parade with its parade of fashion and fur

NYC’s Easter Parade with its parade of fashion and fur

Vintage Easter parade looks

Ann Miller in Easter Parade (1948)

Ann Miller in Easter Parade (1948)

By the 1880s, the Easter Parade had become a grand spectacle of fashion, famous in New York and around the country. The well-to-do, decked out in new and fashionable clothing, would stroll from their own church to others to see the impressive flowers (and to be seen by their fellow strollers). For the less affluent the Parade was like a runway show reflecting the latest trends in fashion.  The event grew in popularity, earning a place on the New York calendar of festivities in the 1890’s.  By 1947 over a million people were drawn to Fifth Avenue to march in or view the Parade.

Vintage Photographs of the New York City Easter Parade Between 1898 and 1933 | Viewing NYC

Vintage Photographs of the New York City Easter Parade Between 1898 and 1933 | Viewing NYC

In 1933, American songwriter Irving Berlin monumentalized the Parade with his song “Easter Parade” written for a revue on Broadway called “As Thousands Cheer”.   Both the song and the revue were tremendously popular. The song became a standard was the inspiration and theme song for the iconic 1948 film “Easter Parade” starring Judy Garland, Fred Astaire and Ann Miller.

Ann Miller in Easter Parade (1948)

Ann Miller in Easter Parade (1948)

Ann Miller in The Easter Parade

Judy Garland, Fred Astaire and Ann Miller

Judy Garland shooting 'Easter Parade"

Judy Garland on the set

New York’s Easter parade continues to this day on Fifth Avenue between 49th and 57th and is enjoyed both by families in Sunday best and people and pets in outlandish costumes.  The focus is on the Easter bonnets with creative displays including high fruit-adorned hats,  over-the-top Fascinators and even hats with live birds in flower-adorned cages. Easter parades are also conducted in many cities, with some of the most prominent in Richmond, New Orleans and Toronto.

Easter Parade in full bloom in NYC

Everything goes when it comes to Parade facinators

Easter Parade in full bloom in NYC

Exaggerated cake hats

In full bloom in NYC at the Parade

Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival in New York

Proper parade attire

Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival in New York

Parade goers love to dress up in wacky looks

Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival in New York

You can’t go wrong with bunny ears

Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival in New York

A participant displays her outfit during the annual Easter Parade on Fifth Avenue in New York on April 20, 2014. The annual parade has been a New York tradition since the late 1880s, during which participants gather, donning all mode of spring finery and hat, from wacky to traditional. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel DunandEMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival in New York

Easter Parade NYC 2012

Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival in New York

Color is always key at the Easter Parade